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The lamb market kicked off 2023 slightly lower than where we said goodbye in 2022. The first reported sale week pinned the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator at 713¢, down 7¢ from Decembers close. Mutton made a slight comeback though, with a dearer trend in most states.

The NLRS saleyard report from Wagga quoted improved buyer demand, with focus directed to neatly shorn lambs offering weight and yield. A lack of well finished lambs is the common theme across the south east and it’s reflected in the price.

Heavy lambs had a turbulent end of year, but the national indicator has opened stronger than pre Christmas levels. At 779¢/kg cwt, the national Heavy Lamb Indicator is 2% (14¢) higher than where it left off.

In the West trade lamb prices have been on a rising trend since the start of November and the opening week of 2023 saw this continue. The Western Australian Trade lamb Indicator ended this week at 641¢/kg cwt, nearly 50¢ higher than where it sat four weeks ago.

Restocker lambs were cheaper in all eastern states this week, with a big range in price. In Victoria the restocker lamb indicator ended this week at 645¢, South Australia 695¢ and NSW 710¢. In WA volumes were low, but restocker lambs were priced at 488¢/kg cwt, 56¢ higher than the December close.

After hitting a bleak 314¢/kg low in early December, the National Mutton Indicator has corrected over the last month. It ended this week at 387¢ which is around 25% below the five year average for this time of year.

The week ahead….

Meat & Livestock Australia’s Australia day lamb campaign is off and firing and we’ll be watching to see whether the spike in domestic demand that comes in January is enough to encourage prices to follow the seasonal trend higher.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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